4 Urban Legends About Paralegals

It’s hard to know exactly how these strange stories get started or even manage to grow legs and move around on their own, but no corner of the universe is immune to their hard to believe stories about grim and gruesome facts of human life. It’s so widespread that even the paper filing, coffee running, memo reading world of paralegals have their own fair share of stories about greed, danger and death (paper cuts can be more dangerous than you think). And knowing that 99.99999 percent of urban legends are about as accurate as a Fox News report on one of President Obama’s “bitch ass slapping, BBQ finger licking UN press conference orgy,” either these things really happened or being a paralegal requires some artistic license to be just above mind-numbingly boring.

1. The “New York sushi memo” urban myth

Paralegals are the Waylon Smithers of the legal world. They are originally brought on in the belief that they’ll be helping out with major cases where lives and families hang in the balance as the sword of justice swirls them and two weeks later, they are braving a 9 inch deep blizzard so that everyone in the law firm can have espressos to warm themselves up by their office fireplace.

One alleged event about paralegals having to drop everything that they are doing to make sure the attorneys are fully fed (short of chewing their food for them) is the infamous “Sushi Memo.” The alleged
document lists in great detail all of the sushi restaurants in the law firm’s immediate area that takes up three full pages. They not only included reviews of the food but also surveys of frequent diners, Internet reviews and delivery options, all complete with even more detailed footnotes. The memo made the rounds over the Internet thanks to sites such as Gawker and The New York Times (urban legend also suggests that The Times was actually once something called “a newspaper” that people could read WITHOUT a computer), but it’s authenticity was never confirmed.

2. The “dihydrogen monoxide” urban myth

Paralegals are constantly being pulled in more directions than a peasant in the Dark Ages sentenced to die by quartering for not paying his “horse quartering tax”. So the paralegal who fell for this hoax about a deadly chemical being used in foam cups deserves a little bit of leeway for not having enough time to learn what the deadly poison in question was in between being asked to run out for sandwiches and wash her boss’ suit on a rock in a river.

A paralegal in Aliso Viejo, Calif. read about a deadly chemical called “dihydrogen monoxide” that was being used in styrofoam containers that was apparently odorless, colorless and tasteless but still deadly enough to bring a whole herd of wildebeests down with one teaspoon. The paralegal informed her city council members and the city government actually had a measure on the table to ban the cups from general city use until they learned the chemical symbol for the deadly chemical: H2O. The offending chemical was just common water, which again in their defense, if taken from just about any municipal aquifer could be considered just as deadly.


3. The “‘Matrix’ lawsuit” urban myth

It’s entirely possible that just about every great Hollywood hit and classic started in the brain of someone who didn’t get to put their byline on the front page of the script. However, any dumb schmoe with a working brain and a central nervous system could tell that this story about a successful lawsuit against the creators of “The Matrix” isn’t true because no one would voluntarily take credit for coming up with the concept for this laughable footnote in Keanu Reeves’ career.

The story goes that paralegal Sophia Stewart brought a lawsuit against the Wachowski Brothers and Warner Bros. Studios for copyright infringement and racketeering for stealing the idea for “The Matrix” from her paralegal brain. The lawsuit was not only successful, but was also able to prove that she came up with the entire story line for all three of “The Matrix” films as well as “The Terminator” movies and its subsequent sequels, a net worth of more than $2.5 billion. The story turned out to be complete bunk but still manage to score ink in several high profile newspapers and tabloids who had to print some equally high profile retractions, if you count on the lower corner in a box underneath some phone sex ads “high profile”.

4. The “paralegal who bought a dead woman’s hair” urban myth

WARNING: If you are eating a meal (particularly spaghetti or gummi worms), doing someones hair, shopping for a wig or basically doing something other than sitting and breathing, you should read this next paralegal horror story with a great deal of caution.

A paralegal in Pennsylvania purchased a wig from an upscale hair salon, spending over $1,500 for a “Brazilian weave”. The new do looked good but the more she wore it, she started suffered from severe headaches that would wake her up at night. She went to a series of doctors who were unable to solve the problem, forcing her to go to a specialist who also couldn’t find the source of the problem. Eventually, she got desperate and went to her original doctor who examined her scalp and discovered worms burrowing into her skull. The doctor took some hair samples (presumably after the nurses were able to pry him off the ceiling and get him to stop shouting until he passed out) and discovered the worms came from a deceased corpse and that the worms had laid eggs in her hair, forcing her to shave her head and choke down loads of antibiotics. And as you are scraping the remains of your lunch off of your screen, you can rest assured that this event never happened and could never happen.


  1. Any one can become a target and a patsy to bolster the sagging ego
    of any would be writer of sensational trivia. You should never even talk about it unless to dig a hole for yourself. DOUG ROSBURY

  2. The Sushi Memo is a confirmed fact – the para (@PWR) was extremely pissed, because the partner whined about the quality of the selected place.
    Note PWR had a rep as a 24hr shop and this was at the time when QOL issues were a big issue and were being openly being addressed across the industry especially in the AmLAw 100 firms and trade press

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